NFL betting: Why picking the Rams this week makes sense

·Betting analyst
·5-min read

Sports bettors don't have to wait until the sun goes down to get in on the NFL action this Thursday. Week 12 starts early as Thanksgiving Day brings non-stop football in one of the best days of the year. With a trio of games on tap, bettors get a more diversified spread on Thanksgiving. Unlike any other Thursday of the season, we aren't forced to find angles in a game where there might not be one. More options give us more opportunities to bet some moneyline underdogs.

Every week on Wednesday, I discuss three underdogs that are worth a bet on the moneyline. More times than not, the moneyline odds are more advantageous, considering that 55 of 77 underdogs that covered the spread ended up winning the game outright. Five of six won this weekend with the Lions being the only underdog to win for bettors while losing on the scoreboard. The moneyline hit rate for dogs that cover rises to 92% in games with a spread of 3.5 or less.

If the team is going to cover, you most likely won't need the points. Nobody enjoys paying for something they won't use, so let's cash in on the money line odds.

L.A. Rams (-105) at Green Bay

It's hard betting against a Packers team that always finds a way to win and had their streak of covering nine straight games snapped last week. The Rams are struggling while failing to cover in four straight games. This creates a perfect storm for us to get value on the Rams. Both QB's appear to be playing through injury, but Rodgers' turf toe comments are a concern. The Rams' defense is sixth in the NFL in sacks and if Rodgers doesn't have his mobility it changes everything for the Packers offense. Aaron Donald could be in for a huge day.

I am confident Matt Stafford and Sean McVay can work through their recent struggles against a Packers defense that just allowed over 400 yards and a 69% third-down conversion rate to Minnesota. I was surprised to learn that the Packers are operating at a net negative in down-by-down success rate. They win games because Rodgers continues to make big plays in high-leverage situations. If he is limited in any way, it has a huge impact on how this game will play out. The Rams are still second in the NFL in net yards per play. This is a classic example of the market being a little too high on Green Bay and a little low on the Rams based on recent performance. At -105 odds, some might see the Rams as a risk but I see them as a reward.

Minnesota (+130) at San Francisco

Everybody was out in San Francisco two weeks ago. After two decisive wins over the Rams and Jaguars, all the 49ers' issues have been resolved. It's not that easy in the NFL. I don't make a habit of betting Mike Zimmer on the road, but is there a worse team at home than San Francisco? The 49ers are 0-4 straight up and against the spread as home favorites. Their 31-10 upset win over the Rams marked their first home win in 393 days. It's safe to say, any adjustment for home-field advantage is giving value to Minnesota.

The Vikings have covered their last three games as underdogs and are 5-1 ATS on the season in that role. The key to beating the 49ers is making Jimmy Garoppo uncomfortable and I like Zimmer's chances of getting after the San Francisco quarterback. Kirk Cousins is coming off a 341-yard, three-touchdown performance and should be able to exploit a vulnerable secondary that has been flagged for pass interference more than any other team in the league. I will bet the 49ers aren't quite ready to turn the corner. Getting Minnesota at +130 or better is a bet I have to make.

Chicago at Detroit (+145)

Can there possibly be a better story than Dan Campbell getting his first win in Detroit on Thanksgiving Day? I can picture the Lions' eccentric head coach with tears streaming down his face, releasing the emotion of the Lions' last nine winless weeks as he bites a giant turkey leg with violence to celebrate his team's first win. It would be a postgame interview for the ages, but there are real reasons to make this bet.

There is enough evidence that Detroit can be very competitive in this matchup. The implied odds give the Lions' a 40% win probability, which is giving Chicago too much credit. Head coach Matt Nagy spent the week addressing rumors of his pending termination instead of preparing for a football game. Andy Dalton has been brutal under pressure and the Lions' pass rush has been much better at home (6.36% sack rate).

In a very low-scoring game, the Lions only need one big play to be a live underdog. I think it comes from their fouth-ranked special teams unit. They have demonstrated the ability to drag more talented teams into close games all season. This is a desperate team's best shot to avoid a winless season. Campbell knows it and is ready to pounce on the opportunity.

Stats provided, football outsiders, *Success rate based off 10-90 WP.

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